The World Water Day was established by resolution 47/193 (22 December 1992) at the UN General Assembly and has been marked ever since on March 22. The day is marked to ensure international importance of water resources as a key factor for the existence of life on our planet.
This year's World Water Day was held under the slogan "Water resources and employment" to emphasize that without water it is impossible to create a high quality job.
The UN does not cease to urge people of all countries to unite their efforts for the protection and conservation of water resources for future generations. After all, water is a guarantee of sustainable development of our world. Its reasonable use is the basis of poverty eradication, economic growth and environmental sustainability on Earth.
A sufficient quantity of water of appropriate quality increases life expectancy, improves material and social well-being, ensures food and energy security.
According to the WHO, more than two billion people on Earth suffer from the shortage of drinking water. Of these, 750 million have no access to safe drinking water. The situation is especially deplorable in poor developing countries, where only 25 percent of the rural population have the so-called reasonable access to water, when a source of water is located in the allowable proximity to human habitation.
According to disappointing forecasts, due to climatic changes and mindless consumption of water supplies, as many as three billion people may experience the shortage of water already by 2025.
Water consumption has been increasing steadily during the last hundred years as the world population has tripled since the beginning of the 20th century. The rapid development of industry, energy and agriculture has led to an increase in the consumption of fresh water seven times. The consumption of water for municipal and drinking needs has grown thirteen times.
Russia plays a key role in maintaining Earth's water resources because the country has enormous reserves of fresh water. Russia comes second in the world after Brazil in terms of the total river flow and takes the third place on water supples per person after Brazil and Canada.
On the territory of Russia, there are more than 2.8 million rivers with a total length of 12.4 million kilometers and more than 2.7 million lakes with a total area of 408,000 square kilometers. Lake Baikal alone holds about 19 percent of the world's reserves of fresh lake water. Yet, with all this wealth, the quality of fresh and coastal water on the whole remains consistently low.
To resolve water shortages in various regions of the world, experts at the UN and other international organizations suggest using the following measures:
1. Exports of water. In the coming decades, exports of drinking water can become more profitable than exports of hydrocarbons.
2. Construction of artificial storage reservoirs. For example, in 2000, Turkmenistan started building a huge reservoir - the Turkmen Lake - in Central Karakum. The lake is to accumulate drainage waters generated in the process of artificial irrigation in a giant basin of natural origin.
3. Educating people on the state level on how to save water. The goal is to reduce water consumption in modern cities. Today, every inhabitant of a big city uses from 100 to 400 liters per day for personal needs, while this figure barely reaches 20-30 liters in many places of the planet.
4. Desalination of sea water or salty water from underground sources. However, this method is a very energy consuming and costly one. Desalination plants must be located in close proximity to salt water sources. The salinity of the water source increases dramatically after the process thus causing damage to the environment.
5. Efforts to curb water evaporation. The amount of water that evaporates from the surface of water reservoirs is larger than the amount of water consumed by man. It is proposed to cover the surface of artificial water reservoirs with special structures or floating constructions that will protect water from evaporation. Such experiments are currently conducted in California, where a thin layer of water-biodegradable substances is applied on the surface of water. The substances are made from coconut or palm oils.
6. The use of water from the atmosphere. This is the main source of water on the planet, but mankind does not know how to use it yet. Experiments on the condensation of water from the atmosphere are conducted in many countries of the world, including in Russia.
According to scientists, the condensation of water from surface layers of the atmosphere may become an effective solution to water supply problems for drought-stricken regions of the world.
7. Multiple water recycling. This method requires the use of powerful water treatment facilities and the use of innovative disinfection methods.
8. Water reserves in the Earth's mantle. A recent study by American scientists showed that the water reserves integrated in rocks at depths from 400 to 659 km are likely to be three times the amount of all water in all oceans of the planet combined.
There is a lot of water on our planet indeed. All we need to do is to learn how to use our water reasonably.
Read article on the Russian version of Pravda.Ru